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"Facebook Censoring Doctors' Videos on Covid-19" Topic

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Gen Con So Cal 2004

Our Man in Southern California, Wyatt the Odd Supporting Member of TMP, takes press pass in hand and reports from the Gen Con So Cal convention.

2,055 hits since 25 May 2020
©1994-2020 Bill Armintrout
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Last Hussar30 May 2020 6:09 a.m. PST

What happens if I exercise my freedom of speech here by blocking the Ed?

Compare and contrast with the criticisms of Facebook/Twitter

MiniPigs30 May 2020 8:14 p.m. PST

It sounds like wmyers is suggesting that the viewpoints he approves of can be biased but everyone has to be objective and adhere to a set of principles those viewpoints can take advantage of?

What if someone were to tweet something explosive during a series of protests? Oh I dont know like what but for instance, "When the Looting starts, the shooting starts" like that racist governor in Miami stated years ago.

I know no one would be reckless or dumb enough to do that during a tense, emergency situation but, if they did, would it be fair for social media to tag it or remove it for violating the policy against inciting violence?

Or, is it anything goes?

Dn Jackson31 May 2020 3:56 a.m. PST

There was a Supreme Court decision many, many, years ago, (I don't recall the case name), that probably applies here.

The court decided that, even though they are private property, shopping malls can not ban people from handing out political flyers. The reasoning was that malls had replaced the town square or town hall as the place that everyone gathered. Essentially if you wanted to reach everyone and thus exercise your political speech, you had to go to the mall. I am of the opinion that social media is in a similar place now. If you want to reach everyone, you go to twitter, or face book, etc. I can see the Supreme Court ruling along these line.

Additionally, the social media companies get certain protection in libel suits that they can lose if they continue their biased censoring of content.

Gunfreak Supporting Member of TMP31 May 2020 6:26 a.m. PST

They can post as much politics as the want(as mentioned there's a Bleeped text ton of nazi Bleeped text on both Facebook and YouTube) politics isn't censored. Facebook has even said they wont stop obvious lies in political ads.
All they are doing here is general public service trying to save lives by limiting exposure of dangerous lies about a health crisis.

MiniPigs31 May 2020 8:14 a.m. PST

Are you talking about these cases?

Pruneyard Shopping Center v. Robins, 447 U.S. 74 (1980)


Lloyd Corp. v. Tanner, 407 U.S. 551 (1972)

Pruneyard, the SCOTUS discussed California's affirmative right to Free Speech, a right which is different to the US Constitution's prohibition against restricting Speech.

Pruneyard Finding:

In American constitutional law, this case established two important rules:

under the California Constitution, individuals may peacefully exercise their right to free speech in parts of private shopping centers regularly held open to the public, subject to reasonable regulations adopted by the shopping centers
under the U.S. Constitution, states can provide their citizens with broader rights in their constitutions than under the federal Constitution, so long as those rights do not infringe on any federal constitutional rights

This holding was possible because California's constitution contains an affirmative right of free speech which has been liberally construed by the Supreme Court of California, while the federal constitution's First Amendment contains only a negative command to Congress to not abridge the freedom of speech.


By contrast, In the Tanner case, the SCOTUS says that there is no right to free speech on private property

Justice Lewis F. Powell concluded that the respondents could have distributed their handbills on "any public street, on any public sidewalk, in any public park, or in any public building." Therefore, respondents were not entitled to exercise their free-speech rights on the privately owned shopping-center property.


It should be added that even in the California Constitution case in Pruneyard, there were quite a few permissible limitations on Speech, including disclaimers, warnings against the content of the views being expressed and confining the speech to certain areas of the mall. The California law itself continued to be narrowed and many exceptions were added that basically relegated the right to free speech in California malls to the food courts.

For example, this "Please do not contribute to solicitors" sign:


Not exactly how Pruneyard's view of Free Speech would be applied to Twitter because although the States can have broader free speech rights, Twitter's influence isnt confined to one State and therefore a California citizen's speech would interfere with a NYers right not to be subject to it.

Congress almost certainly cant do anything about this either. Frankly, if Twitter wanted to come out and say, we dont like right wing speech and it's off, I dont think Congress could do anything about it.

However, this recent concept that anything but unfettered, extremist speech which can include unfounded conspiracy theories and outright lies is an exercise in bias or persectuion is truly disturbing. It is also an admission by extremist groups that they are incapable of establishing their own channels of communication and thus must hijack, existing, popular platforms in order to disseminate their views. In addition, one could make the argument that when Twitter allows these views to be aired, these extremist groups profit from Twitter's moderate and commercial appeal to make it seem like extremist views are much truer than they actually are. In other words, crackpots are counting on the public's response being "If it's on a trustworthy site like Twitter, it must be true.

This is why private property is rarely subject to any obligation to promote free speech or stopped from editing it.

This second part about bias leading to the erosion of libel protection for the Press is a complicated one. But the concept of bias seems to carry its own bias. In any case, this new conservative mantra of bias is flawed for several reasons:

1. It's only a problem because social conservatives feel under siege. Bias wasnt a problem when they felt in control; rather, it was considered being right-thinking.

1A. I dont see groups yelling about Bias when they think the bias is in their camp or expounds views they tend to believe or want to believe. This seems especially true with conservative media which cut and pastes or tinkers with reality to try to fit an uninterruptible fantasy narrative. Even though he also acknowledged the claims were false, Rush Limbaugh recently supported a certain Orangey guy's false claims about a long debunked murder as being playful and trying to start fires. Is this a case of bias? Should he be sued for libel? I didn't hear conservative voices getting outraged over that. Be careful that a claim about bias isnt itself steeped in bias.

2. Bias isnt necessarily a problem. Corruption might be but not bias. If we hire people to investigate and arrest some universally detested group, we usually dont complain if the investigators are biased. We would draw the line at the fabrication of evidence but not, for instance, if the prosecutors hated organized crime; we might even consider that a positive attribute.

3. "Bias" is the new secret weapon for extremists who are restrained from making sweeping and, presumably, influential claims with no support or to condemn a source if they believe it to be detrimental to their viewpoint.

In any case, Bias as a form of unfair limitation can only exist if the original claim being edited is in fact true and many of those original claims carry biases of their own, especially when they come from a dark place or are unsupported by facts/evidence.

Someone publishing a story such as children steal mail in election ballots as if it is a common and long standing problem when in fact it is supported by no evidence and may itself emanate from the original claimants desire to influence an election and which is then debunked or deleted by social media cannot go on to legitimately claim "bias" solely because they arent free to construct any sort of reality they desire.

The Fox News Seth Rich case is one of the few recent cases where a Media company has gone too far with promoting a conspiracy it knew to be false in order to help a political party. This case has yet to be decided but if FOX should lose this case, it might actually mandate that the Press and social media be a lot more careful with what sources and views they allow which ironically for a lot of extremist groups will seem like even more "bias" because all sorts of stories will have to either be verifiable or get deleted.

However, i dont think that bias is a reason being considered as a reason to open up libel liability for the Press or social media.

wmyers31 May 2020 9:49 a.m. PST

The issue is Facebook et al. claiming they have no bias when in reality they have one.

That's known as a hidden agenda.

There's no point whining about it. The antitrust actions began just before Covid-1984 hit so it's not been trending. They're just trying to hang on to what they have for as long as they can.


Dn Jackson01 Jun 2020 2:58 a.m. PST

Thanks Minipig, it's been several decades since I read those cases and must have misremembered the case. As for the libel protection that Twitter and the rest currently enjoy, they would become subject to the same laws as newspapers and other media outlets are under. I don't have much of a problem with this myself. If they want to edit what people say, and they have an obvious political bias as Twitter clearly does, than they should be subject to lawsuits if it can be proven they lied.

As for your statement that there is no evidence of voter fraud during elections conducted by mail:


PDF link

MiniPigs01 Jun 2020 10:24 a.m. PST

Dn Jackson,

That's perfectly alright. That is why we write things down, so that we dont have to memorize everything like the cavemen had to :)

It is creditable that you brought them up.

To be fair to what I said, I didnt say there was zero voter fraud, I said:

Someone publishing a story such as children steal mail in election ballots as if it is a common and long standing problem when in fact it is supported by no evidence…

But, since we are here, the evidence you put down should be rooted out and noted but it also tends to underline how rare it is when the overall voting numbers are considered.

The antitrust concerns that wmeyers brought up are very important and it may be what breaks up some of the bigger tech, social media companies.

Martin from Canada01 Jun 2020 11:48 a.m. PST

The antitrust concerns that wmeyers brought up are very important and it may be what breaks up some of the bigger tech, social media companies.

Bill not wanting to go on the stand for another round of anti-trust litigation is why Microsoft passed on acquiring Android in the mid-2000s.

wmyers02 Jun 2020 1:39 p.m. PST

Obviously the place is a toxic work environment:




Mithmee02 Jun 2020 6:56 p.m. PST

Careful wmyers,

You are treading into Blue Fez arena.

Dn Jackson03 Jun 2020 5:19 p.m. PST

"Someone publishing a story such as children steal mail in election ballots as if it is a common and long standing problem when in fact it is supported by no evidence…"

Fair enough. However, voter fraud goes back as long as there have been popular elections. All the way back to Greece and Rome. I had a friend of mine who, as a teenager in the 60's, went with his father to polling places in West Virginia and bought votes. They would give people either a dime or a drink of whiskey for their vote. So why should we make fraud even easier than it is now.

But, since we are here, the evidence you put down should be rooted out and noted but it also tends to underline how rare it is when the overall voting numbers are considered.

Those are the ones that got caught. Several long standing 'safe' Republican seats were flipped last election in California when vote harvesting was made legal. Now its possible all those people changed their voting pattern, but unlikely.

Tumbleweed Supporting Member of TMP04 Jun 2020 6:42 a.m. PST

In Chicago we used to say "vote early and vote often."

MiniPigs04 Jun 2020 10:09 a.m. PST

@Dn Jackson

The answer to your question is you cannot stop the vast majority from a legitimate voting system because there's a few bad apples. It's like, "People steal from me so I get to treat everyone like a criminal." I should mention that the "Voting integrity commission" stated that they found no evidence of widespread fraud and disbanded. Maybe they found fraud only on their side and maybe they really didnt really find any but they did disband.

Additionally, it's a legally bad faith argument to assume voting fraud because a voting pattern has shifted. I think Roy Moore's campaign manager's reason for asserting voter fraud was that more people voted in certain counties than usual without accounting for the fact that that election was more spectacular than in past cycles.

Has anyone seen the penalties for voter fraud? Why more than a handful would risk those sanctions to change one vote is beyond me.

I think inviting a foreign power to interfere in an election is far worse. In any case, voting is a right and this is the only western democracy that doesn't both promote and indeed mandate universal voting for citizens. I suspect that the fear of fraud is far less sincere than the knowledge that a certain viewpoint fears that if everyone voted, their control would be extinguished. I dont know that this would be the case (and neither do they) but that is what I suspect their fear is.

MiniPigs04 Jun 2020 10:10 a.m. PST

In Chicago we used to say "vote early and vote often."

Yes, I wonder if them that utter this incessantly really believe this or just find it convenient to never let it go?

Tumbleweed Supporting Member of TMP04 Jun 2020 9:30 p.m. PST

No, MiniPigs, I saw it with my own eyes.

Dn Jackson05 Jun 2020 6:38 p.m. PST

We're going to have to disagree. I see no reason to invite more voter fraud, which has happened and has been proven, when voting is very easy to do as it has been for over two centuries.

'I think inviting a foreign power to interfere in an election is far worse.'

I do too. But since it didn't happen, I'm not worried about it.

MiniPigs06 Jun 2020 8:25 a.m. PST

@Dn Jackson. We can disagree. I dont think we're going to stop 100 million people from voting because there are a few cases of fraud. I should repeat that the president personally disbanded his own voter fraud commission with a no fraud finding.

Voting isnt easy; it should be easier and in fact it should be a requirement of citizenship.

There is ample proof of inviting a foreign power to interfere with US elections. If I recall correctly, someone got impeached for that. No need for you to worry about it but no one can say it didnt happen.

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